Being here now: the first and last day in this body?

The quote this week speaks simply of the need to stay in the present, literally to be here now. It’s funny how such simple advice can be so difficult to follow in practice! How many of us have continued to regret things from our pasts ~ things we have done that we wished we had not, or the things others ‘did to us’ which has caused anger, upset and so on, sometimes for many years – decades even – after the event. And at the same time we look forward to the future, at what it might hold for us, planning, dreaming and getting attached to certain outcomes, sometimes without even being aware that we are doing it. In the midst of all this past and future chaos it is easy to lose sight of ourselves in the here and now; to bring awareness to all of our interactions now, and to live a fully engaged life. The comment about living as though this is the first day in our body could be a useful tool to allow some of the historical baggage to fall away, but it is the comment on living as this was the last day in this body which resonated for me most.

The reason it did so is simple ~ earlier this week a friend contacted me to say that a mutual acquiantance had died in his sleep, on the sofa, after falling into a diabetic coma. He’d done everything ‘right’, had been to the doctors when he felt unwell, his blood sugar levels were checked and were fine, he was told to go home and rest. Falling asleep on his sofa was the last thing he ever did, and I doubt he had the opportunity to think that that particular day would be his last in that body. He was 37. A super-fit, healthy, diabetic man. From what I know of him he did live life to the full – snowboarding, surfing, mountaineering, you name it – he never let being diabetic stop him from challenging his body. Yet a simple stomach bug stopped him permanently in his tracks.

It may be a morbid thing to say but I think that death is one of the greatest teachers. We so often walk about as if we’re invincible, as if death will never come for us, endlessly planning our lives into the distant future, but rarely, if ever, stopping and thinking, or questioning: ‘if this was my last day in this body, is this how I would choose to act? Is this what I would choose to do or say?’

Death, then, can also teach us a lot about joy – what joy is there in hanging on to past transgressions or regrets? What joy is there from always chasing a future dream, to the detriment of experiencing what is happening in our lives right now? Death is the ultimate focuser – for indeed every moment of our lives is so very precious.

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